New York State Creates Panel to Study Robots, Artificial Intelligence

On July 24, 2019, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation creating a statewide panel to study the impact of automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and robotics on New York.  The 13-member panel, to be known as the New York State Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation Commission, will include members chosen by the governor, the state legislature, and the university systems of New York State and New York City.

The Commission is given a broad charter and will examine the range of issues increased AI and automation implicate, from workplace concerns such as productivity and potential discrimination, to the broader moral and ethical questions raised societally.  Given that jurisdiction over these issues is spread throughout numerous state agencies and committees within the legislature, supporters of the legislation hope it provides for a more holistic and comprehensive assessment of AI and automation’s effects on the economy and society.  The Commission is required to issue a report by the end of next year detailing its findings and presumably including recommendations for legislative and/or regulatory responses.

The New York legislation comes amid the debate as to how society will meet the challenges of increased automation and the use of AI.  With respect to the workplace, policy makers are just beginning to grapple with the potential effects of these technologies on jobs, skills, and the nature of work as a whole.  From digital ordering kiosks in restaurants to automated packing and delivery in warehouses, every day seems to bring a new report of job displacement by way of automation.  Proposals on the federal level to adopt a national AI strategy have been introduced, but given legislative gridlock in Washington DC and next year’s presidential election, it appears increasingly unlikely that Congress will take action on any high profile initiatives in the near future.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.